Members of the opposition boycotted the Sindh Assembly session on Friday when the deputy speaker refused to let them debate the arrest of protesting teachers.
The opposition’s Shaharyar Maher proposed an adjournment motion at 10:30 am to discuss the police action against school teachers on Thursday. When Maher’s motion was deferred by deputy speaker Shahla Raza for being presented late, Jam Madad Ali, the leader of the opposition, said that the government was “insincere” towards addressing the teachers’ problems.
Raza informed the opposition that their motion could not be tabled because it should have been submitted at least one hour before the session was meant to start. Ali maintained that the issue was an important one and should be tabled regardless. When Raza refused, the opposition walked out in protest.
Education minister Pir Mazharul Haq said, however, that the members of the opposition were “hatching conspiracies” against the government. “When these people were in power, they had banned teachers’ welfare associations and had also beaten them. Have they now become champions for their rights?” Haq said.
“These people want to derail the government,” said law minister Ayaz Soomro, adding that the members of the opposition had been “instigated” to protest.
“We do not want to derail the government. But the government is avoiding the issue of upgrading teaching allowances and timescales,” said Ali, adding that a summary of the teachers’ concerns had been with the chief minister for a year.
At this, the education minister said that the opposition’s allegations were inaccurate. A committee, comprising representatives of teachers’ associations as well as the education department, has reached consensus, said Haq, adding that a system, similar to the one that exists in Balochistan rather than the Punjab, will be implemented in Sindh.
He accredited the consensus to the efforts made by the federal government. “The Sindh High Court had declared the teachers’ association illegal but we challenged the decision in the Supreme Court,” he said, adding that the Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Waseem Ahmed had also been asked not to take action against the teachers.
The teachers were trying to enter Governor House, which is why the CCPO had to ask the police to take action, said Haq, after which he requested Raza to allow members of the opposition to present their case.
When Ali informed the ministers that no one from the government has visited the teachers or reassured them that their issues will be resolved, Katchi Abadis minister Rafique Engineer said that he had met them at the Karachi Press Club along with other members of the cabinet and had assured them that their summary has not been rejected. When Maher tried to speak, Raza said that there was no need for a discussion after the education minister’s statements. Members of the opposition boycotted the session for a second time against the speaker’s attitude.
Performance of public health engineering department questioned
The performance of the public health engineering department was questioned at the Sindh Assembly session where Shoaib Bukhari was asked to submit statistics on unhygienic drinking water across the province.
“The government is working on 32 water filtration schemes across a number of districts,” said Bukhari, adding that 1,100 water purification plants are also being installed. Similarly, 275 river osmosis plants are being installed in the districts where the water is contaminated,” said Bukhari.
2 agriculture bills moved, 2 MPAs nominated
The Wholesale Agriculture Produce Market (Development and Regulation) Bill 2010 and Sindh Seed Corporation (Amended) Bill, 2010 were moved by law minister Ayaz Soomro.
Arif Maseeh was nominated a member of the Sindh Assembly’s standing committee on excise and taxation, wildlife, public health engineering, minority affairs and works and services. Meanwhile, Faheem Ahmed was nominated a member of the provincial assembly as well as one of the governors on the board of the Sindh Coal Authority.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 29th, 2010.